Undrafted free agency gave the New Orleans Saints a bounty of young talent, ranging from offensive linemen Landon Turner and Jack Allen to defensive backs Trae Elston and De’Vante Harris. But another possible contributor signed on after the 2016 NFL Draft: Texas A&M offensive lineman Joseph Cheek.
Joseph Cheek has been an offensive tackle playing guard. He’s got the length you want out of a tackle; great height at 6-foot-6 with adequate arm length at nearly 33-inches. Cheek has spotlighted at tackle at times for the Aggies and done well, but for the most part played inside at guard. It didn’t go well for him there.
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- Height: 6-foot, 6-inches
- Weight: 295-pounds
- Arm Length: 32 3/4-inches
- 225-pound Bench Press: 24 reps
Cheek simply isn’t strong enough to stay inside in the NFL. He was abused by Alabama’s best-in-college-football defensive line, especially returning starter Jonathan Allen. Moving to tackle full-time could be a great move for Cheek. It’s likely he would have started at tackle in College Station if not for a pair of talented bookends in Seattle Seahawks first round pick Germain Ifedi and third-year starter Avery Gennesy.
How he fits the New Orleans Saints:
Though he isn’t a ridiculous athlete, Cheek is technically-sound and is a great fit for the Saints’ zone-blocking scheme. He has good vision and quick feet to pick up moving targets and adjust to the angles of defenders racing around the open field. Because of that, Cheek could be a dark horse candidate to make the roster; the team is probably looking to move on from Zach Strief in 2017.
Strief is currently scheduled to account for $5.1-million in salary cap hits in both 2017 and 2018. Releasing him frees up savings of $2.9-million in 2017 and $4-million in 2018. The emergence of Andrus Peat as a quality starter at right tackle would make that even more likely, opening up the door for Cheek as a cheap swing tackle to back up Peat in 2017.
While most attention will be paid to the Saints’ competition at guard, a possible position switch to tackle for Cheek would be worth monitoring. I think he could be a candidate to land on the practice squad this fall.